I recently followed in the footsteps of my grandfather and father and took Europe by storm!
However, unlike them, I was not trudging onto the beach at Normandy, France in World War II to liberate anyone or passing through England on my way to take on the first Teutonic threat to take-over the world, like my Gramps did in World War I.
Their efforts, some 65 and almost 85-years ago, respectively, allowed me the ability to visit for pleasure during peace times. But in these years following a global recession, me the American, could not expect to be welcomed like a conquering hero.
Face it – the dollar was worth like .55 to the British Pound Sterling and maybe .65 to the Euro. The talking heads on TV seem to be preparing for Chinese rule and the forgotten dollar is seen to be weak after our eight years with W – the rootin’, tootin’ cowboy. In fact, A Pew Research Center poll has found that most Western Europeans think the US has already been replaced by China or wil be replaced by China as the world’s leading power. So, just as I was preparing to down my final Freedom Fry and like it, I landed at Heathrow and found America is not only still relevant, but we’re embraced by our Allies like never before. In fact, it was kind of sick, like some scary stalker movie.Upon entering merry old London, I had no expectations. I knew the dollar was worthless and that at the least I could escape all of the things that in America make me loopy: bad Hip Hop, auto tunes and bad reality TV – but boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
Throughout my European trip, my culture was to stalk me like that icky girlfriend that won’t take “no” for an answer.
It started at the hotel. I clicked on the telly and watched the news and some cool documentaries and began to enjoy my vacation. I was comforted by South Park in a jet-lagged stupor, but had no idea my world would actually begin to crumble moments later.
During a commercial break I took an innocent trip around the dial and in Jason jumping out the water fashion, I was shocked moments later when I clicked on VIVA, the UK’s MTV equivalent.
Among an endless barrage of pseudo Hip Hop and auto tunes, was a gem of a show called “The Geordie Shore.”
After throwing up in my mouth a little, I watched in utter horror as this absolute rip-off, clone of my home state’s vapid, shallow trainwreck, “The Jersey Shore,” ambled down the tracks and actually caused me to shriek like a school girl.
No I’m serious. If you’re looking for big hair, ignorance, violence, bad fake-assed tans, and plastic boobies? – Geordie Shore’s got it all.
Need a Situation with a British accent? There’s “Gary.” Need a fix of Snookie with an odd affect? I think that’s “Sophie.”
QUICK HISTORY LESSON
Evidently, in North East England there is an area known as Newcastle, where a dialect of English has survived since the 4th Century AD. During the end of Roman occupation, native Welsh speaking Britons were left open to raids so they employed Angles and Saxons. These soon to be Anglo-Saxons from areas of both Denmark and northern Germany respectively, settled and brought with them what may be the earliest form of English.
Thought to be lyrical and odd, the Geordie patrois and working class lifestyle is seen as amusing and different by the Brits. However, all of the proper etiquette and tea couldn’t make me overlook the fact that this show is a hit and no one sees anything wrong with absolutely emulating the worst we have to offer in America.
Unbowed by my possible part in what would be a scare-fest, I moved on like some foil in a B-rate movie and dismissed it as an aberration. I’d flown more than 6 hours into the future to escape this crap but – not so much.
I was willing to let the Jersey Shore rip-off thing go, then the plot thickened. The station kept pubbing the records of these three kids, who I’d never seen or heard before.
Named N-Dubz, the trio of Lil Dappy, Tulisa and Fazer were everywhere and I was supposed to be excited about the prospect of them hosting a video show the next day. Don’t get it messed up, they had all of the trappings of Hip Hop artists here. Auto tunes was blazing, tattoos were everyplace, the clothes were a little baggy and of course, only Mother Goose had more nursery rhymes than these guys.
Billed as one of England’s “biggest Hip Hop” acts, I peeped a bit of the show with the guarded gaze of a teen who’s watched a few friends disappear, but I was just so damn curious.
After the third, really bad hit – something about not being ready to be a baby-daddy or something, I’d had enough. I was being abused by the same crap I escaped in the states. Songs with no substance being delivered by people who had no other motive than to make a lot of money and get a movie deal.
By the way, they were signed by Def Jam in 2010 and are expected to cross the pond and come to America sometime this year. Be afraid, be very afraid!
What ever happened to rhyming and MC’ing?
Why is this going on in England?
Why am I suddenly under my bed?
I thought England hated our arrogant American ways and were far too proper to even mull copying our steez. I was wrong on all fronts.
While visiting Kensington Palace, the last residence of Lady Di, all of my fears were realized. Three young kids strutted by me in their saggy pants and side-cocked baseball caps and as they spoke to each other in Italian and tried to look tough in their colorful clothes and White Sox gear, I realized I’d been sold a bag of goods.
They don’t even dislike us – Europeans love us and of course love our Hip Hop style, no matter how whack it had become. We’re still running things, it’s just so sad it’s during the whackest manifestation of the artform.
Why don’t these kids know the difference between dopeness and watered down lyrics?
What happened to the artform I love and why is there an international conspiracy of whackness?
Was I really outside of America?
In the Underground, England’s subway system, I was confronted by posters announcing a concert from my American nemesis – the Black Eyed Peas. Jay-Z and Beyonce were due to perform at the Annual Glastonbury Festival and I was feeling a little hopeless about the place of dopeness in the universe.
It was nice to know that the world does still dig Americans, but at what price – whackness?
Me and wifey escaped for a day to Paris, to get away from it all.
I loved the griminess of Paris and its metro-system. Beautiful, colorful graffiti lined the walls outside the trains and in the hoods and it made me smile. I took in the sites and tried to drop out of my depression.
We visited Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and chowed on baguettes amid the constant push of Gypsy street vendors and African kids pushing cut-rate versions of the tower in key-chains, statues and piggy-banks.
After studying the Metro map we journeyed to the Arc De Triumph to close our vacation from our vacation. When walking up the stairs of the subway, I heard a familiar sound – Old School beats.
“How can that be?” I thought. “I’m in France!”
But there – with the backdrop of the Arc De Triumph was my answer. Street performers Illusion Optique – popped and locked their ways along the sidewalk with a makeshift microphone set up and b-boyed like the old days. I actually thought I was back at Washington Square Park in the Village for a moment – it was beautiful.
In the end, we should be careful about accepting the down sell job that is spewed by talking heads in America who tell us about what we’ve lost and what aren’t. Street culture and realness still rule, despite the corporatization of the culture in recent times.
From the raucous Jersey Shore to faux Hip Hop – America still sets the cultural tone for the world. Maybe the work of the pioneers was not in vain afterall.
It’s obvious that Hip Hop culture has permeated the world and – We’re still #1!